About Fran Rossi Szpylczyn

Writer, speaker, retreat director, social media minister, church secretary - it's hard to believe I was once a corporate executive, but I was. Married, with spectacular stepdaughter, crazy dog, and cat living in the Capital District of New York State.

You shall not kill

no-killing_designA question has nagged me all during Lent, and now sits front and center on Good Friday. That question is: why do we kill one another?

Well, why do we kill one another? The Fifth Commandment states: “You shall not kill.” This seems very clear, but as human beings we seem to find numerous ways to rationalize a great deal of killing, and even more ways of denial when it comes to deaths we might be able to prevent. Consider how poverty, hunger, drugs, lack of medical care, human trafficking, the death penalty, torture, and war are the tip of the iceberg.

thou-shall-not-kill-2People die every day and not all of them are killed, but we will focus on those who are killed. I’m going to back up for a moment and pose my original question again: why do we kill one another?

We kill one another all the time, and seemingly with great ease. A few things that come to mind are the great bargains on the clothes we like to wear, getting good prices on flights, putting out-of-season produce on our tables, shaking our heads – whether with Continue reading

Holy Thursday Pedi

tnb_pic2Have you ever gotten a pedicure on or near Holy Thursday because you knew that your feet would be washed at the Mass of the Lord’s Passion?  Yes people, it is true, vanity reigned, and I made sure that my feet would look OK before I let someone wash them at church.

Yes, I know… when you do it, it’s one thing, and when you write about it or read about it, it is another thing. Did you hear me Continue reading

Am I too late?

tell-me-not(This Last-day-of Lent reflection is a guest post offered by Shannon O’Donnell. She is a longtime online Catholic friend, from the Seattle-Tacoma area, author, and jail chaplain. Her words never fail to move me.) It’s the last week of Lent, the last days, really. Some days I have been aware of the season, other days, not so much. In the county jail where I work, “Lent” describes more than just those six weeks before Easter. Some people refer to it as “Hell on the Hill.”

In mid-February, we distributed ashes at Catholic services. At communion services and prayer groups, at the one Mass, and I carried a small box of ashes with me as I met with offenders for private talks. Ashes were one thing most people could relate to, so anyone who asked received them.

Out in the parishes, Continue reading

Last gasps of Lent

-1Here we are, another Lent come and nearly gone. How do we feel? Any different from how we felt on Ash Wednesday? Or how we felt last year? Or the year before?

If you look at the selected Evening Prayer in the daily devotional Give Us This Day, you will find a reading from the Book of Acts (Acts 17:27b-31). It is not the standard evening prayer for today, as found in the Liturgy of the Hours, but I read it (yes – early, because I thought I was giving a reflection on it tonight) and I thought it really delivered the message of what these last gasps of Lent might offer us.

imagesHere we are at the end of our 40 day trek through the desert. We are likely weary, hot, tired, thirsty, exhausted. Or maybe we are not, because we saw the “last oasis before Easter” exit earlier in our Lenten journey, so we did the sensible thing – we bailed.

Some of us may be Continue reading

How will you enter?

christs_entry_into_jerusalem_hippolyte_flandrin_1842Today we remember that Jesus’ entered Jerusalem to cries of  Hosanna, meaning  “save, we pray!” Hosanna is also interpreted to mean blessed as well. The messiah enters the holy city at the start of the festival of Passover to save and to bless – but not in any way that people might have imagined. We are also called to consider how we will enter into Jerusalem ourselves.

What are our hopes, dreams, beliefs, and prayers today? Do we cry out for Jesus to “save, we pray?” Do we cry out to be bless or be blessed?  Do we believe that Jesus will , or in fact, has already, saved us? Or are we just showing up because Continue reading

Say yes

Silence. Listening. Emptying. Filling. Receiving. Giving.

Today I offer you a repost from a few years ago, with some questions… What seemingly impossible things are we called to say yes to today? What is in the space between God and our yes that makes for miracles? How will we each bring Christ into the world without reservation?

Musings on caffeine, prayer and addiction by Susan Grunder

8747XLarge(Guest contributor Susan Grunder is back, with a beautiful reflection that invites us to think about our dependencies and about God. So perfect for this point in Lent.) This morning I found myself in a semi-dark kitchen grinding coffee beans. I hate having to grind the beans in the morning (my apologies to all of coffee purists who might be reading). But not having my half-caf in the morning would certainly be worse—for me and for all those around me. This is a first world problem, I know. I have the luxury of fresh coffee beans, clean running water, electricity to light the pre-dawn darkness of my cozy kitchen, and the time to reflect on my coffee addiction.

8846747041822As a younger woman, coffee wasn’t my drug. I was a Diet Coke girl. In college I could roll out of bed, grab a “DC” and head to class. I’m pretty sure that if I had cut myself during my young adult years, I might have Continue reading